My two boys may eat ALL day long but one thing I don’t worry about is the variety of what they’re eating. From a young age, both Ethan and Nixon took to food like ducks to water and pretty much haven’t stopped eating since lol.
My younger brother was a terribly picky eater, pretty much surviving childhood on chicken nuggets and banana sandwiches. This drove me absolutely mental as his sibling and now as a mother myself I can only imagine how frustrating this must have been for my parents at the time.
As a mum I’m constantly trying to give my kids exactly what they need at any given time, this is not always in line with exactly what they want of course, but try and explain that to a rampaging, hungry toddler!
Nixon is going on 3 and mealtimes are a work in progress. His nutritional needs are a little ‘special’ because of his Hirschsprung’s disease but we’ve got that under control and he’s well on his way to becoming a wonderful eater like his big brother – if not better I think!
I was watching Nix and Dave working together in the kitchen the other day and I realised that, yes it’s a stereotype, but our kitchen really is the heart of our home, both spatially and as a family hub. We spend a lot of time with the kids in the kitchen, cooking, eating together, trying new things and just, living. I think our family’s focus around the food we prepare, serve and eat has played a huge role in our boys adventurous, appreciative and non-fussy approach to meal times.
Tips for Raising Awesome Eaters
- Avoid ‘Hangry’ eating. Hungry kids become irrational kids really quickly. If I catch the boys with a well balanced snack or meal before they reach the ‘hangry’ tipping point, they’ll eat everything happily and get back to playing quickly. If he gets too hungry, Nixon in particular will obsess over one particular snack or meal that may not be entirely appropriate – cookies for breakfast, yoghurt for dinner etc and will reject healthy or new options.
- Welcome kids to the kitchen. As soon as he was sitting up, Nix was always in his Bumbo, or clipped onto the bench in his high chair watching me make his baby food or the family dinner. Now he’s a wee bit older, he drags his step stool into the kitchen every morning to help his Dad prepare breakfast and most afternoons when we are getting dinner ready he’s also there. Pretty much every new vegetable we’ve introduced Nixon to has come from the chopping board at meal-prep time! Taking an active role in cooking gives our boys a sense of pride and ownership, they WANT to eat what they’ve helped make. It’s totally awesome.
- One meal for EVERYONE. In our house everyone eats the same meal or at the very least variations of it. When I was prepping Ethan and Nixon’s baby food their meals would usually be a blended combination of the protein and veggies that Dave and I would also eat that day. This just makes sense financially and in terms of minimising the time and effort you spend in the kitchen each day! If everyone’s plates look the same there is less wriggle room for pickiness, plus the boys can see Dave and I enjoying something they might have ‘decided’ they don’t like.
- Eat meals together. Family time is becoming an ever more precious commodity with our household’s bustling schedule. We can’t make it work every night as the needs / bedtime of our toddler vary greatly from that of our 11 year old, but we try. Nixon needs to regularly see his family enjoying meals together, trying new foods and modelling healthy, social eating habits for him to emulate.
- Offer foods repeatedly. Toddlers in particular are nuts, often displaying behaviors and choices that appear to have no rhyme or reason – refusing a celery stick one day only to eat 5 the next. If Nix leaves something in his lunchbox or on his plate, I have figured out that there is generally no underlying meaning – he just simply didn’t get around to eating it. Try again in a few days in a different scenario. Feeding my boys the same thing at the same time of day is a sure-fire way to create a boring routine which inhibits adventurous eating. If I feed Nixon Nutella on toast for breakfast EVERY morning, that’s what he’ll expect and he’ll fuss if we break the routine. Not good lol!
- Watch for cues. Nixon is a compartmental eater. By this I mean he eats ALL of his beetroot before he moves onto his tomatoes. He will then eat ALL of his tomatoes before his quiche. Someone that’s not used to this might assume that he simply doesn’t like quiche – not the case, he’s just getting to it in his own time. Sushi is perfect for Nix as it can combine carbs, veges and protein in one tidy package that ALL looks the same!
- Don’t force the issue. Food, eating and mealtimes can be fun and should be enjoyable experiences for everyone. The 8.5 year age gap between my sons has resulted in many adjustments to our parenting, one of the most profound being that I don’t stress about how much our toddler eats at any one mealtime. If he’s hungry, he’ll eat. They’re intuitive little beings, and they probably listen to their tums a lot more than we do as adults and getting pedantic about ‘cleaning your plate’ is probably unnecessary most of the time.
Here in New Zealand, and in many places around the world, the conversation around where our food comes from and how it’s grown and produced is one that we are engaging in more and more frequently. Many of us are making choices to eat locally, eat organic, to actively avoid over-processed foods or those with artificial and unnatural ingredients. As a mother of two however, I’m so happy that this conversation has finally trickled down to those brands producing infant formula. Or ONE brand in particular I should say.
Munchkin has just launched the world’s FIRST 100% Grass Fed Formula.
Why is this important? Grass fed milk is healthier than grain fed milk because it comes from cows who eat only grass and plants – as nature intended, creating the richest, most natural and best tasting milk in the world. What better place to farm these lucky cows then right here, at home in New Zealand! We enforce some of the toughest dairy and food regulations in the world – Kiwis all know we take our milk products seriously down here lol. Munchkin’s new formula range can boast no unnatural growth hormones and steroids plus, the milk in this formula is completely free of GMOs YAY!
This post was sponsored by Munchkin who know, like we all do, breast is best, but for families who choose to supplement (or HAVE to as we did with Nixon) or bottle feed their babies, new Munchkin grass fed formula is the best you can buy because it comes from such high quality milk.